Will Dinski is framed by a wall of ramen spoons. He slurps a mouthful of crispy chicken ramen and looks around the Nicollet Avenue Ichiddo Ramen thoughtfully. “This would be really fun to draw.”
Food has taken center stage in the Minneapolis-based comic artist’s work and his personal life in recent years. Dinski is currently eating his way up and down Minneapolis’ Eat Street as research for his ongoing monthly comic series titled “Eat Street Diners Club.” The “Diners Club” invites readers to join his cast of characters, a group of coworkers (some of whom can be found on our February cover, if you look hard enough) gathering for meals on Eat Street and cracking jokes all the while.
Dinski fell in love with comics at an early age but grew out of them in high school. It was the boom of indie comics tailored to young adults and adults that led him to leave Illinois to come to Minneapolis to study comic art. Initially, Dinski struggled to find his style, but completing a 32-page comic the summer after his first semester helped him hone his skills. “I just kind of learned how the medium worked, I could tell my own kinds of stories,” Dinski says.
“A comic is always going to be a reflection of a real person,” Dinski says. “You can’t hide behind any kind of artifice and you can’t lure people; you look at it, and it’s their real hand. It’s their expression of who they are as a person and no one else’s comic will look like that.”
For this month’s “Great Debate” cover, Dinski’s artwork captured the chaos and social square-dance that happens in pubs and taprooms. “I love the opportunity to be able to draw lots of people in any image. Trying to express different kinds of people or little tiny stories. Taprooms are good for that, there are so many little spheres of conversation going on.”
When drawing, Dinski begins storyboarding the page on the back of a gridded out piece of paper, before flipping it over to start the drawing. Finally, he adds in color, laying down the color on tracing paper, not because it’s better or faster, but because “there are too many options on the computer, I can’t stop changing. I have to set limitations.”
Beyond working as a graphic artist in the Twin Cities, Dinski helps organize and run the Autoptic comic and independent print festival, an event that brings local artists out of secluded studios and creates a community where they can compare work.
He also has to plan for a book tour for his 2019 graphic novel “Holy Hannah,” the story of a woman who joins a cult, and the consequences of that decision. Writing a graphic novel challenged Dinski mentally and emotionally.
“There were over 100 pages that I just threw away because they weren’t working,” he says. “I got really depressed when it was done. But what I realized was being in the middle of that book was so fun. It was my favorite place to be. That’s what I love about the ‘Diners Club,’ I’m always in the middle of the story. I don’t have to worry about how it ends, I can just kind of take this ride and see where it takes me.”
Medium: Pen and ink
Currently resides: Minneapolis